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March 6, 2013 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Windsor McCay was one of the first superstars of the American comics strip, a pioneer in both cartooning and animation, massively prolific. All of his work is in the public domain, but where to start? Over at Robot 6, Chris Mautner provides the lowdown in the first installment of a new series of Comics College, "a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work".

The previous thirtytwo installments profiled the following cartoonists and writers:
  1. Los Bros Hernandez
  2. Jack Kirby
  3. Osamu Tezuka
  4. Robert Crumb
  5. Neil Gaiman
  6. Chris Ware
  7. Lewis Trondheim
  8. Harvey Kurtzman
  9. Art Spiegelman
  10. Eddie Campbell
  11. Harvey Pekar
  12. Kim Deitch
  13. Kevin Huizenga
  14. Herge
  15. Charles M. Schulz
  16. John Stanley
  17. Seth
  18. Frank Miller
  19. joe Sacco
  20. Jason
  21. George Herriman
  22. Jack Cole
  23. Adrian Tomine
  24. Grant Morrison
  25. Jessica Abel
  26. Gabrielle Bell
  27. Scott McCloud
  28. Charles Burns
  29. Jacques Tardi
  30. Phoebe Gloeckner
  31. Marjane Satrapi
  32. David B.
posted by MartinWisse (26 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
My goodness. I was drawn in by Winsor McCay, but the structure of this column is such an amazingly helpful thing for learning about all these fantastic authors. This is such a great post.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:10 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


LIKE. Even if it is a crime against comics to include Adrian Tomine before Dan Clowes.
posted by COBRA! at 7:49 AM on March 6, 2013


It's mentioned in the column, but McCay was also an early and influential pioneer in animation. It's notable that early in his career, he was a vaudeville performer who did chalk talks, where he would perform speed drawings for an audience with an accompanying monologue. These included an act where he would begin with two faces and modify them to age over the course of time, itself a rudimentary form of animation.
posted by Quart at 8:06 AM on March 6, 2013


At Comics College they teach the Comics Canon!

This is great. May I also recommend the work of Alex Robinson, which I happened upon recently at my local library.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:14 AM on March 6, 2013


It's an interesting list, if (so far) weighted more toward contemporary (i.e. 1980's forward) artists, many of whom I really doubt will be looked-upon as fondly 50 years down the line.

Also, 36 artists in and no Jean Giraud? Really?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:36 AM on March 6, 2013


> Also, 36 artists in and no Jean Giraud? Really?

It's pretty clear he's not working in order of favorites -- if anything he's starting with the ones easiest to write about or which are most accessible to American English speakers.

That's "accessible" in terms of access to the material, as well as comprehendability.
posted by ardgedee at 8:56 AM on March 6, 2013


I so wish that Fantagraphics or some other comics purveyor would put together a well crafted compendium of Little Nemo (like as has been done with Krazy Kat, Gasoline Alley, Popeye, etc.). There are some partial compendiums out there, usually out of print and very expensive.
posted by Falconetti at 8:59 AM on March 6, 2013


I got the Taschen collection of the compleat Little Nemo and it's a beauty, though that more recent full side collection is brilliant too.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:37 AM on March 6, 2013


no Jean Giraud?

Worse, only four women so far represented, all fairly recent.

But yeah, this is pretty much one person's tastes as shaped by what's currently available or trendy in the US market. Moebius is hugely important, but how much of his work is currently in print in English?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:42 AM on March 6, 2013


I never knew about that Complete Rarebit Fiend book. I recently found a copy of Miracleman Olympus for a decent price. Now I have a New Grail.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 10:18 AM on March 6, 2013


I found The Best of Little Nemo in Slumberland being literally given away at an art school. It's gorgeous, but worth too much money to just read. So I keep it, waiting for when I need money. The art is stunning.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:22 PM on March 6, 2013


I am lucky enough to have both of the Sunday Press collections. These are amazing things - they're printed at the ORIGINAL FULL SIZE. You have to sprawl out on the floor like a kid to read them; you can really savor the detail.

Two of the best presents I ever got.
posted by egypturnash at 2:06 PM on March 6, 2013


I do quite enjoy Love and Rockets but am annoyed by Fantagraphics' inability to simply release some 2000AD-style omnibuses in proper reading order. Their L&R library is all over the fucking place.

Anyway. Seconding Eddie Campbell and I'm really confused as to why Grant Morrison is on this list. I find that I am really sad about Morrison being such a numpty, because his love for animals would normally just make him my favourite by default.

I've been unsure about picking up any Charles Burns but everybody keeps going on about Black Hole and there's a comic store here in Brisbane selling stuff at US cover price so maybe if they have it for twenty bucks or whatever...

I'm also pretty keen to pick up the new Pirus and Mezzo King of the Flies trilogy once it is complete. I flipped through the first two volumes in the store the other day and was gobsmacked.

Oh and Huizenga's Ganges books sound really good too.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:26 PM on March 6, 2013


Anyway. Seconding Eddie Campbell and I'm really confused as to why Grant Morrison is on this list. I find that I am really sad about Morrison being such a numpty, because his love for animals would normally just make him my favourite by default.

Yes, why is an author who's singular vision stayed true from independent comics to Vertigo miniseries to iconic runs on everything from X-Men to Batman on a list of 'comic book auteurs'? You can pick up any comic and you know it's a 'Grant Morrison comic'.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:41 PM on March 6, 2013


Singular vision of what?

(Disclaimer: I actually meant to edit out my comment about being really confused over his inclusion on the list, and wanted to just keep the numpty part, but oh well!)
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:47 PM on March 6, 2013


I honestly have no idea what a 'numpty' is, or why you would call Grant Morrison an 'idiot'.

Singular vision of what?

There are serious Grant Morrison scholars on MeFi who can answer better than I can, but his vision includes elements of psychadelica, multiple layers of reality in the Philip K Dick sense, metafiction and metatextuallity (which persisted from Animal Man all the way to Seven Soldiers of Victory), a love for 'disreputable' and forgotten corners of the comic book universes he works in, a feel akin to New Wave sci-fi of the 70s, a belief in postmodern magick and a general rootedness in music and counterculture. I haven't read the bestselling book where he lays all of this out, so there must be some I'm missing. His work has invited deep obsession and analysis, and he's as much of an auter as anyone on the list. I'd even put him above Neil Gaiman, who's mostly abandoned comics.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:06 PM on March 6, 2013


Winsor's imagination and drawing skill were legendary but he was a little on the right-wing reactionary side. Kind of like Scott Adams. A lot of the editorial illustrations he did for Sunday newspapers were on the batshit end of the spectrum.

Editorial image from February 26, 1928
posted by JJ86 at 4:14 PM on March 6, 2013


McCay's politics have been discussed before in a mefi post about a collection of his editorial cartoons. (The blog it links to, sadly, has been taken down.)
posted by ardgedee at 5:39 PM on March 6, 2013


ardgedee, when did that blog go down? I could have sworn I was still getting RSS updates from it just this week.
posted by 23 at 6:33 PM on March 6, 2013


Ah, he just changed the name of the site. Fresh link here.
posted by 23 at 6:36 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait when did I say he was an "idiot"? Also, having a thousand different visions doesn't give you a "singular vision", it gives you a thousand different ones. Morrison started for me with Zenith and ended with Animal Man #25 and every single thing of his I've read ever since - and I've given a lot of chances to a lot of his stuff - is the same endlessly recycled Illuminatus! schtick, over and over. He can't tell a straight story and for me he's just a naked emperor. And I consider a "numpty" because he comes off as a top-shelf tosser in every interview with him I've ever read or seen or heard. His bestselling book where he goes into detail about why he's so amazing and world-changing is not something I've read either. TCJ has encapsulated my feelings on this guy.

But before we go any further, I can't read Alan Moore's stuff any more either and I guess I'm angry about not having any comic book heroes to look up to any more. I hope this new Joe Casey thing turns out okay or I am just gonna read fuckin' IDW franchise books based on toys.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 8:08 PM on March 6, 2013


Oh I liked We3 as well. But that's just good comics, same with Zenith and Animal Man. If writing good comics (one time in ten) makes you an auteur then I guess, yeah, I'm pretty excited for the Pat Mills and John Wagner and Alan Grant and Howard Chaykin encapsulations that will be forthcoming.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 8:32 PM on March 6, 2013


Assuming a 'tosser' is the same thing as a 'wanker' than that is literally true, since that is how he focuses mystical energy on a popmagickal sigil and works his will upon the universe.
And what is a 'numpty', then? Is it another Morrison creation, a cute inhabitant of a sub-universe at a different scale than our own?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:54 PM on March 6, 2013


Numpty (n). Scottish for "dumbass".

longer definition
posted by egypturnash at 10:44 AM on March 7, 2013


Assuming a 'tosser' is the same thing as a 'wanker' than that is literally true, since that is how he focuses mystical energy on a popmagickal sigil and works his will upon the universe.

So erm, anybody else who participated in that particular magickal exercise in keeping Invisibles from cancellation?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:14 AM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not me personally but I know that comics blogger Graeme McMillan took part in that Wankathon. He lent me the first 20 odd issues way back in the day and got me rehooked on comics.

I must say I haven't noticed the recycled Illuminatus! Schtick part of All Star Superman.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 12:26 PM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


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